Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Creative Writing Course in Book Form

In my last post, I promised to write about a couple of exceptional writing guides I read recently. Today I'm going to focus on one of those books. It's called Mastering Fiction Writing by Kit Reed.

This morning I went over to Amazon to grab shopping links for this book, and the reviews there are an even 50/50 split. I'm truly surprised there aren't more reviews for this book overall. It used to be a college text book, and it's incredibly afforable, so I'm not sure quite what I was expecting. However I'm going to throw my gauntlet into the ring and tell you this is quite possibly the best, most helpful writing guide I've ever read. I truly mean that.

I read a sample of this book online, and I was sold within the first few pages. The author talks about how she spent years searching for the secret tricks, the paint-by-number set of rules for sucessful writing, and even after she knew better, she still kept searching for them. Talk about relatable. She
might as well have been writing about me.

Most writers, unpublished or published, have at some point heard other writers talk about "writing from character". This book covers that topic, explaining it from a primordial, developmental standpoint.

Ms. Reed suggests drawing character from our "alluvial sludge". In other words, she suggests forming them from our childhood experiences, and the personal triumphs and tragedies throughout our lives that have shaped us into who we are as individuals.

She further discusses how to create characters from those experiences, and from there, she explains how the first lines of a story propel the characters forward, guided by their own unique "inner logic" that hints at the direction the story will unfold.

This is invaluable information if you've ever created a character you love, but can't seem to get them to "do" anything on the page. And that is just one helpful facet of this guide.

Other chapters in Mastering Fiction Writing that I found especially helpful include:

  • Development 
  • Rewriting to Complete your Thinking*
  • Plot, Or: The List of the Lucky Seven
  • What to Leave Out and What to Put In
  • Audience
  • Discipline  
Mastering Fiction Writing gets my highest recommendation. It's basically a creative writing course in book form for as little as 1¢ (used, plus shipping) on Amazon. (print copies only, no digital) At 136 pages, it's a quick read with an absolute treasure trove of helpful writing advice packed in from cover to cover. If you'd like to buy a copy for yourself, you can find the book here: Mastering Fiction Writing / Kit Reed / Amazon 

*P.S. One more thing before I go... My favorite chapter in Mastering Fiction Writing is Rewriting to Complete Your Thinking.  If you read the book and find this section helpful, or if you're simply looking for books that focus on rewriting and revising, I recommend an additional book by Kit Reed called Revision, which is part of Writer's Digest Books' classic The Elements of Fiction Writing book series. You can buy a copy here: Revision / Kit Reed / Amazon 

Next week, I'll be discussing the other book I recently read that turned out to be a great writing guide. Until then, I'm sending you lots of happy wishes. •

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